Orange Hawks have been quietly scheming in the background amid Group 10's off-season signing frenzy and two blues captain-coach Willie Heta confirmed he's added some serious starch to an already-impressive pack ahead of the 2020 season.
With his side looking to shrug off back-to-back preliminary final exits next year Heta announced the signings of former St Mary's prop Tom Romer and ex-Cootamundra lock Wayne Parker, although he also confirmed a badly broken leg could rule boom edge forward Talon Hodge out completely.
Having Romer and Parker at his disposal would be a 'luxury' though considering how large, in every sense of the word, a hole Hodge would leave, with both landing at the two blues with big raps.
It's always a luxury to have good forwards coming in.Hawks captain-coach Willie Heta
After helping St Mary's to the 2019 Ron Massey Cup grand final, which they lost to Western Suburbs, Romer approached Hawks and lands with big raps while Parker was actually directed to the club by now-Canowindra captain-coach Luke Branighan.
"Tommy Romer comes with pretty big raps, he actually sent his resume to the club and a few others I think after seeing a lot of guys coming this way from Sydney. I think he just wanted a change and Orange was a good fit for job opportunities and being able to play a bit of footy as well," Heta said.
"In Wayne's case I think he was directed to the club by Luke, who said he'd been a good fit here at Hawks. He's actually living in Bathurst and travelling across, but he comes with good reports too.
"I'm not sure Talon will be doing much any time soon, from what I know it's a clean break. He'll be a big loss and obviously Jared (Brodrick) has gone out to captain-coach Cargo in the [Woodbridge Cup], but it's always a luxury to have good forwards coming in."
The club remains in the process of re-signing the group that marched to the minor premiership before being devastatingly beaten by Bathurst Panthers in the major semi-final and then Mudgee in the penultimate game.
"From all reports the rest of the 2019 group will be coming back again. We've had a lot of the local boys around through my time here and obviously it's just a matter of bringing in a few players to fill some positions around them, and get some more experience in the mix," Heta said.
The two blues are still in the market to bolster their spine too, specifically in the No.1 jersey, with Heta saying he'd 'like to get a little bit more from the back next year'.
Corey Brown started the 2019 season at fullback before moving back to the centres, with Duncan Young shifting behind the line and staying there as the two blues won the minor premiership before being bounced out by Mudgee in the penultimate game of the year.
"Duncan did a really job filling for us at fullback and he has the ability to do that for us virtually anywhere (on the paddock), but he knows where he stands and we definitely want to hang on to him but I would like a little bit more from the back next year,' Heta said.
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